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Federal funding boosts cutting-edge research in Ipswich

From super-Earths to ‘super’ sensors, cutting-edge University of Southern Queensland research has attracted nearly $1 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Australian Research Council (ARC).

Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced $84 million for projects led by emerging Australian researchers under the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme.

Two University of Southern Queensland projects were recognised as promising early career research, led by astronomer Dr George Zhou and mechanical engineer Dr Toan Dinh.

Dr Zhou was awarded $425,489 to survey the origins and evolution of the most abundant planets in the galaxy.

“This project positions Australia as a global leader in the hunt for planets and delivers key techniques for characterising the environments and atmospheres of Earth-like worlds,” Dr Zhou said.

“My project aims to characterise super-Earths and Neptunes exoplanets at various stages of their evolution and help develop techniques for the next decade of exoplanetary research.”

Dr Zhou currently works with the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the USA, and will soon join the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Astrophysics team.

Mechanical engineer Dr Toan Dinh, who received $440,675 through the ARC funding round and is based at USQ Springfield in Ipswich, is developing new ‘super’ sensors that are a thousand times more effective than current technology.

“Sensor technology can be used for monitoring structural health, reducing failure and extending the lifetime of structures, providing cutting-edge knowledge to petrochemical and mining industries which are of particular importance to Australia,” Dr Dinh said.

“This project will build on recent breakthroughs to advance high performance silicon carbide based sensors.”

University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie commended the researchers on their achievements.

“This is an outstanding outcome for the University of Southern Queensland and signals our position as national leaders in future materials and astrophysics research,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“It also reflects our strong commitment to supporting emerging researchers for their excellence in research.”

For more information about the DECRA scheme, visit

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